by Rabbi Dovid Siegel
This week's haftorah reinforces the notion of our eternal relationshipwith our homeland, Eretz Yisroel. In the midst of a heavy Babyloniansiege against Yerushalayim, the prophet Yirmiyahu was instructed to make amost puzzling transaction. Hashem informed Yirmiyahu that his cousinChanamel was interested in selling his field and that Yirmiyahu shouldtake full advantage of the opportunity. Although Yirmiyahu realized thatthe Jewish exile was imminent and that the Babylonians would soon take fullpossession of Eretz Yisroel he followed Hashem's direction and arranged forthe purchase. Yirmiyahu wrote a legal contract and paid a large sum ofmoney for the land. Yirmiyahu then preserved the document in an earthenvessel to secure its existence until such evidence would be useful.
The prophet then directed his words to Hashem in bewilderment andquestioned, "Since the Babylonian war machines are in full gear and theJewish exile is already on its way, of what purpose is this sale?" Hashemresponded, "I am the Master of all; is there anything beyond Mycapabilities? The Jewish people will return and re-engage themselves insuch purchases and the land will be resettled." The dialogue seems to besomewhat understood; however the purchase remains a mystery. Hashem hadsent many prophets to the Jews regarding their eventual return from theBabylonian exile. Why was it necessary to demonstrate their return throughthis tangible experience? It is certainly fair to assume that Yirmiyahuwould not derive any personal benefit from this purchase. After all, hewas on the way to a long and hard exile of seventy years without anyindication of personally returning to Eretz Yisroel. Why then was heinstructed to waste his money in securing what, for him, was a seeminglyuseless transaction?
In response it can be suggested that this purchase taught the Jewish peoplea very meaningful lesson. One can easily imagine the feelings of theJewish people during that era. They were finally confronted with thereality that they would soon be forced to leave their homeland. Althoughthey had enjoyed the privilege of dwelling in the palace of the king fornearly one thousand years this privilege was now drawing to a close. Theirminds were now focused on their unfortunate plight and they dreadedsevering their ties with Eretz Yisroel. Although this painful thoughtsurely tormented them but the reality was that their association with EretzYisroel was slowly beginning its decline.
At that exact moment the prophet Yirmiyahu was instructed to secure thepurchase of a plot of land. Through this visible demonstration, the Jewswere being told to rise above their inevitable predicament and to realizethat their painful exile would only be temporary. They were encouragednot to despair and never to break their ties with their homeland, EretzYisroel. To reinforce this point their prophet Yirmiyahu was instructedto demonstrate his total faith in the Jewish people's return. Yirmiyahubegan setting his sights on the future and purchased property inpreparation for the return. In Yirmiyahu's mind this upcoming exile wasbut a passing phase and he rightfully preoccupied himself in life after thebrief Babylonian stay. Yirmiyahu taught the Jews that the Jewish peoplenever really leave Eretz Yisroel and that they are always bound to theirhomeland. He taught them that they truly belong to Eretz Yisroel andthat Eretz Yisroel would always belong to them.
A similar lesson regarding our relationship with Hashem is revealed to usat the end of this week's parsha. The Torah warns the Jews to adhere toall of Hashem's mitzvos even after their exile from Eretz Yisroel. TheSforno explains the reason for this general warning which encompassesmitzvos that don't specifically relate to Eretz Yisroel. He states thatthe Jews in exile could easily present the argument of rejection. Afterall, Hashem expelled the Jews from His land, indicative of His lack ofinterest in the Jewish nation. If so, what binds the Jewish people to themitzvos, considering that Hashem severed His relationship with His people!?The Torah therefore reminds us that its obligations remain forever andthat Hashem is forever concerned about His people. The Sforno notes thateven after the Bais Hamikdash was destroyed the Divine Presence remainsamongst the Jewish people. This phenomena is felt in our Bais Haknesses,synagogue and Bais Hamidrash, Torah study hall which continue to embodythe Divine Presence at all times. (see Sforno's comment to Vayikra 26:12)We learn from this that Hashem never forsakes His people and remainsamongst them always because Hashem will always be our G-d and we willalways be His chosen nation.
Text Copyright © 1997 Rabbi Dovid Siegel and Project Genesis, Inc.
The author is Rosh Kollel of Kollel Toras Chaim of
Kiryat Sefer, Israel.